Family Books for Road Trips


in the car, art rates higher than hygiene

We drove nearly 3000 miles this month.  Thank goodness for books on CD.  The books we like on CD are not always the same ones I want to read in print. For instance, a literary novel would not be my choice for a road-trip. Choosing a book for the car has as much to do with the narrator/reader as with the text.  Thus we have some favorite books (Mysterious Benedict Society) that don’t come with us because the reader puts us to sleep.

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The books we listen to in the car are a particularly precious part of our family’s lexicon.  We are all together for long stretches of time, and I can’t imagine a better way to use that time than to build a communal vocabulary of shared jokes and stories.  So without further ado, here are our favorite books for the car:

Anything read by Jim Dale. He reads all seven J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, as well as the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pierce.  He also does a lovely reading of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

Stockard Channing’s readings of the Ramona series (Beverly Cleary).

The Artemis Fowl series (by Eoin Colfer), read by Nathaniel Parker.

Cherry Jones’s readings of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, but only the ones performed by Tim Curry.

Jayne Entwhistle’s performance of the Flavia DeLuce mysteries, by Alan Paton.

What have we missed?  Please share your favorites in the comments.  Modern Mrs. Darcy had a recent post on her favorites, too, so check her out.

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5 thoughts on “Family Books for Road Trips

  1. We’ve been listening to audio books A LOT this spring/summer. And you’re right, the reader/narrator really makes or breaks the book. I actually had to shut off The Borrowers because the narrator was so whiny that I wanted to claw my eardrums out. I didn’t love The Bad Beginning (#1 in Series of Unfortunate Events) because the story is just so dark, but Tim Curry just does such an amazing job, I felt compelled to finish it (both my boys loved this book though and want the next one – I don’t know if it was the story or Tim Curry!). We also enjoyed Stockard Channing’s Romona.

    Some we’ve really enjoyed so far (I’ll try to remember who read them if I can):
    Mary Poppins, Travers (can’t remember the reader)
    Matilda, Dahl, read by Kate Winslet
    The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Lewis, ready by Michael York
    The Indian in the Cupboard, Banks, read by the author
    And the favorite: Because of Winn Dixie, DiCamillo, read by Cherry Jones

    On our last road trip we listened to The Hobbit preformed by a full cast, and I didn’t care for it. It felt like a radio show instead of a reading and I just didn’t get into it.

    I will have to give The Little House series on CD a try. They are so dear, I’ve been reading them aloud myself, partially because I enjoy them so much and partially because I was afraid of how a narrator might read them. But since we loved Cherry Jones’ Winn Dixie so much, I might be willing to test her Farmer Boy. 😉

    • Have you tried Dahl’s The BFG (read by Natasha Richardson)? It’s one of those that was HARD when I tried to read it aloud (it’s all full of tongue-twisters and spoonerisms) but Richardson nailed it.

  2. We all love All-of-a-Kind Family – it’s wonderful!!! … and all of the Gooney Bird Greene books by Lois Lowry, and the Paddington books on audio are especially fun for all ages!

  3. Pingback: Our favorite games | Learning As We Go

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